Spring Mountain Divide from Sawmill Trails (Archive Photo)

Bonanza Saddle to Pahrump, NV

The Bonanza Trail

Heading to the Switchbacks

Generally a popular hike, Bonanza Peak lies in the northern end of the Spring Mountain Divide. Along the divide also lies (N to S) Wheeler Peak, Willow Peak, and McFarland Peak. Bonanza Peak rises as a green, tree-filled peak between McFarland Peak and Willow Peak. Between Bonanza Peak and Willow, there is a large beautiful saddle and a fantastic arch. Today, seven hikers made to the drive up to Cold Creek and the Bonanza Trailhead. Straining our eyes to see wild horses that have always lived in this area, or even a rare elk, we saw nothing. The dirt/gravel road leading out of the small residential town was in pretty good condition and was easily negotiated by the two jeeps in our posse.

Early in the 57 Switchbacks to the Saddle

We were familiar with the trail that climbed 57 switchbacks to the Bonanza Saddle. Three hikers remained back as stronger hikers climbed faster.

From the Bonanza Trail to the Desert Below

The trail begins with s curves but after a short traverse, the first two switchbacks begin the train of zigzags.

The Cold Creek Community at the Base of the Divide

McFarland Peak from the Bonanza Trail

Each hiker climbed at their own speed, taking a pause now and then to catch a breath or two. Many of the switchbacks are on gentle slopes but there are several that are more steep. In particular, there is one long traverse that is challenging as you travel from the left side of the mountain to the right. Once at the right side of the climbing ridge, we came upon the Window View switchbacks where you can hike out a little further to see Willow Arch up on the summit rim rocks. This is located in the vicinity of the 33rd (or so) switchback. Since I was one of the last hikers, my stay here was short. Just long enough to get a good photo!

Willow Arch (aka Window in the Cliff) from the Overlook Below

Mike, the hike coordinator, was kind enough to wait for Rita and I every once in a while to check and see that we were okay. Otherwise, we took our time as there really wasn't a choice!

The Low End of the Bonanza Peak

This famous climb continues up from the overlook on a few more switchbacks then begins another long traverse. This traverse is not as steep as the previous one.

Starting the Long Traverse – Saddle to Left of Rock Outcropping


Arriving at the first switchback after the traverse, we had 9 more switchbacks to the saddle. Not too bad! So, up we went arriving at the Bonanza Saddle where we were surprised to see the remaining hikers waiting. We thought they would have continued up to the peak since we had told them we would be taking our time and only reaching the saddle. But, the weather was so cool and breezy on the ridge that they exclaimed that they were in no hurry. As we sat for our snack break, the others (including Mike) began hiking on up to the peak. The Bonanza Trail leads the way up to a cairned junction where more cairns lead on.

End of Traverse (9 more Switchbacks to Go)

The difficult part of Bonanza Peak isn't finding the peak but finding your way back down from the peak to the trail and going in the correct direction. A good GPS will fix this issue.

Arriving at the Bonanza Saddle

It was a bit cool on the saddle and, I heard, it was quite breezy on the peak so our stays were not long. There were many switchbacks to descend.

Trail leading to Bonanza Peak from Saddle

Trail Descending from Bonanza Saddle

Rita and I started down without much ado after taking a few photos of the beautiful, yellow flower filled meadow on the saddle. Knowing the descent was harder on the body than the ascent, we took our time. The switchbacks went by much faster this time and we reached the trailhead 30 minutes before the first of the other hikers trailed in. We sat in the shade waiting while enjoying the absolutely beautiful day in the wilderness. BTW, I caught a fleeting glance of a solitary horse under trees between houses in town as we drove out. He/she appeared healthy. Great day and great to be back from Georgia! I missed y'all!
Bonanza Saddle: 6.5 miles; 2130' elevation gain; 4.25 hours; average moving speed 1.5 mph
Bonanza Peak: 9.5 miles; 2800' elevation gain; 5 hours; average moving speed 2+ mph

McFarland Peak from a Switchback

We made it!

What a Scrappy Bunch!